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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

Why Should We Stop Saying "Don't Worry"​ To Kids Too Often!

“Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.” – Matthew Jacobson

Parenting is a tough job, but a fulfilling one too. Raising a young child into a good human being is truly a mammoth task. And, in this journey, you often have to put your child through various phased of learning and development.

As a parent, you probably love your child the most. But, during their growing phase, you cannot always safeguard them from different situations. You have to let them ‘face the world’ at times for them to learn and grow. It is okay for you to pamper them, but always taking away their everyday fears and worries is not something good for them.

Today’s topic can be dealt with from TWO perspectives:

ONE- Stop saying ‘don’t worry’ too often, and grant all their wishes.

It is okay to give in to their tantrums once in a while, but not too often. If they want something they saw at a friend’s place, or under peer pressure, make sure it is justified for you to get it for them. Once they get used to the luxury, they will keep coming back with more demands. So, you should know when to say NO. They will not learn to value things and take you for granted. Though tantrums are important for growing, you should know the right way to handle them.

TWO – Don’t say ‘don’t worry’ and make them maladaptive.

If they are not able to do anything, don’t always step in and make things easier for them. Because it might turn out to be a hindrance to their growth and development. They will never be able to face the fears and apprehensions in life.

All kids have fears, and it is normal for them to be anxious from time to time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7% of children between 3 and 17 years have an anxiety disorder. Research has shown that differences in stress response can be detected in babies as young as 6 weeks old.

So, the key is not to keep them away from anxiety but to teach them how to handle it in the right way.

When we tell our children “Don’t worry”, it is like telling them they should not feel scared. We are telling them feeling scared is a bad thing, but that is not right.

Golda Ginsburg, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut says that, "There is an inherited risk, but when parents are overprotective or model their own fears, they increase their child's risk of anxiety."

There can be many reasons for anxiety in a child, like anger, aggression, trauma, tantrums, and many others. According to 2019 research report, 10% of children aged 2 to 5 years show signs of an anxiety disorder.

It is important that our children know what to do when they feel worried, or concerned, about something. Feelings of worry are important because it is our brain’s way of telling us to be careful, to tread lightly, and to watch out. Communicating with them about what they should be doing with their feelings of worry helps them to build healthy coping skills, and learn how to better take care of themselves in different situations.

There is a concept of flash-forward” thinking in adolescence and new research sponsored by the National Institute for Health Research in England talks about its relation with worry. Based on the analysis, the researchers found that “flash-forward” thinking is uniquely associated with generalized anxiety, as well as depression. You can read more about it here.

We will subsequently discuss how to handle tantrums and anxiety effectively in your child.

What are your views on this? How often do you say "don't worry" to your child?


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